Commentary Archive

Montreal rewind: Stanford Robinson

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Welcome to “Montreal rewind,” our player-by-player recap from Indiana’s five-game tour of Canada. Today: Stanford Robinson. Previously: Nick Zeisloft, Devin Davis, Troy Williams, Yogi Ferrell, Robert Johnson.

While much of the focus and discussion up in Canada was on IU’s retooled backcourt  featuring a pair of freshman sharpshooters in James Blackmon Jr. and Robert Johnson, sophomore guard Stanford Robinson quietly put together a strong trip north of the border.

In five games as a reserve, the 6-foot-3 guard averaged 12 points, 2.4 assists and 1.4 steals in 17 minutes per game. He shot the ball well (59.7 eFG%) and got to the foul line a team-high 28 times.

And he also unveiled a new wrinkle in his game: He is now shooting right-handed. After struggling with his perimeter shot as a freshman, Robinson has been working on making the switch this offseason and in IU’s loss to Ottawa, he took and made his first right-handed 3-point attempt.

“It’s something he’s been working on,” Tom Crean explained. “It’s a little more natural for him. He’s a little but more of a naturally right-handed player. If you look at it, it’s much smoother coming off his guide hand. It’s all about his guide hand.

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Montreal rewind: Robert Johnson

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Welcome to “Montreal rewind,” our player-by-player recap from Indiana’s five-game tour of Canada. Today: Robert Johnson. Previously: Nick Zeisloft, Devin Davis, Troy Williams, Yogi Ferrell.

After Robert Johnson went 0-of-6 in Indiana’s fourth game on its tour of Canada against McGill University, Tom Crean was surprised to learn that his freshman guard didn’t register a point in the contest.

From Crean’s perspective, the Richmond (Va.) native had a positive overall impact on the game, so the scoring void didn’t stick out when he had a chance to take a closer look at the statsheet.

“You know what’s funny, I don’t know who brought it up yesterday, but I hadn’t read the stat sheet when we talked,” Crean said after IU’s fifth and final game against UQAM. “I didn’t have any clue that he didn’t even score a point. I told him that’s the good news and the bad news.

“The good news is it didn’t affect him in my mind because we were asking him to do so many different things inside of the game. At the same time, he knew when we talked that he wasn’t as aggressive as he could be in looking for shots, in getting to the rim, in getting to the foul line. But, his seven boards, those things were good. I thought it was a great sign of somebody who went out there and impacted the game and it wasn’t his scoring.”

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Montreal rewind: Yogi Ferrell

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Welcome to “Montreal rewind,” our player-by-player recap from Indiana’s five-game tour of Canada. Today: Yogi Ferrell. Previously: Nick ZeisloftDevin Davis, Troy Williams.

There’s a strong argument that no player was more critical to his team’s production on a game-to-game basis in the Big Ten last season than Indiana’s Yogi Ferrell.

Much will be expected of Ferrell once again in his junior season, but on IU’s five-game tour of Canada, we received our first look at Indiana’s revamped backcourt and the effect it may have on the point guard of the Hoosiers.

The early returns suggest that Ferrell’s game should benefit significantly as a result of the overhaul.

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Montreal rewind: Troy Williams

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Welcome to “Montreal rewind,” our player-by-player recap from Indiana’s five-game tour of Canada. Today: Troy Williams. Previously: Nick Zeisloft, Devin Davis

Plenty of storylines emerged over IU’s five-game tour of Montreal and Ottawa. Among them: IU’s improved ball movement, the perimeter shooting of Nick Zeisloft and the play of freshman guards James Blackmon Jr. and Robert Johnson.

However, the most intriguing of all of them may have been the play of sophomore Troy Williams. In five games, the sophomore wing from Hampton (Va.) put up impressive numbers: 18.4 points, 6.4 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 1.2 blocks and 1.2 steals in 27.8 minutes per game.

It was a major swing from what Indiana fans saw out of Williams as a freshman. While effective at times, he was inconsistent and struggled with his shooting from the perimeter. In Canada, Williams laid off the perimeter shots and instead, focused on attacking off the dribble and scoring often off of baseline drives. Williams credited his health as a major reason for the improved play.

“Last year I had a hand injury – I always had my left hand bandaged,” he said. “Now that it is healed, it feels better. I have always been comfortable with the ball, I just couldn’t use both hands last year. Now that I have both back, it is much easier for me to handle the ball again.”

More important than the scoring, however, was the variety of ways in which Williams was able to impact the game.

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Montreal rewind: Devin Davis

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Welcome to “Montreal rewind,” our player-by-player recap from Indiana’s five-game tour of Canada. Today: Devin Davis. Previously: Nick Zeisloft.

With the departure of Noah Vonleh to the NBA, Indiana lost arguably the best defensive rebounder in the Big Ten. At times, Vonleh could control the defensive boards on his own, but without him, much is going to be asked of both IU’s guards and frontcourt players this season when it comes to hitting the glass.

One of the guys who IU hopes can step up to fill some of the void is Devin Davis, who is expected to have a significant role in IU’s frontcourt as he enters his sophomore season. IU’s trip to Montreal gave us a first glimpse at the offseason progress made by the Indianapolis native.

He appears to have put on close to 10 pounds of muscle since last season and in five games in Canada, Davis put up solid numbers: 8 points (77.8 FG%), 7.6 rebounds, 1.4 turnovers, 1.2 assists, 0.6 blocks, 0.6 steals in 21.4 minutes per game.

“Coach Crean talks to me about being consistent and going to the glass every time,” Davis explained after IU’s win over UQAM to close out the trip. “So I try to go every time and if the ball bounces my way, I do my best to come up with it.”

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Montreal rewind: Nick Zeisloft

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Welcome to “Montreal rewind,” our player-by-player recap from Indiana’s five-game tour of Canada. Today: Nick Zeisloft.

When Nick Zeisloft emerged as a potential offseason addition for Indiana, the move was met with plenty of skepticism from Indiana fans. With limited scholarships available, why were the Hoosiers looking to add the seventh leading scorer from Illinois State with two years of eligibility remaining?

Over five games in Canada, we learned exactly why as Zeisloft showed that he’s capable of being a valuable piece for the upcoming season. The 6-foot-4 guard averaged 8.8 points and hit 11 of the 20 shots he attempted from behind the 3-point line. On a team with plenty of perimeter players who can create off the dribble, a shooter like Zeisloft holds tremendous value when ball handlers drive and kick.

And after working with the team for only few practices before departing for Canada, it did not appear as though Zeisloft needed much time to get incorporated with his teammates.

“He’s feeling his way,” Tom Crean explained. “It doesn’t matter if you’re 21, 22, 42, 52, you walk in a new environment and it’s going to be different. But we have high expectations for Nick, extremely high expectations for him. Like I said when we started studying his film when this became a possibility, we felt there was a lot on the table left for him. There is and we’re going to keep pushing him, but I think he really wants it and he’s an extremely hard worker.”

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The Inside the Hall Mailbag: August 4

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The Inside the Hall Mailbag is a collection of questions tweeted to us via Twitter (@insidethehall), submitted on our premium forum and sent to us via our Facebook page. Submit your questions and we’ll answer as many as we can.

moanders on the premium forum writes: We’ve read about the kind of things fans and the coaching staff will be looking for in Montreal as a sign of progress, but what would be the most troubling thing you might see (or not see) as far as the development of the team or of an individual player?

I believe it’s dangerous to draw too many conclusions one way or the other from a trip like this, especially with Indiana mixing in a ton of new players. However, one thing  to watch for is how IU takes care of the ball.

There are going to be some turnovers, of course, but will we see progress from returning guys like Yogi Ferrell, Troy Williams, Stanford Robinson, Hanner Mosquera-Perea and Devin Davis in that area? It’s never too early to start setting the turnover tone, so it’s a stat that I believe bears watching over this five-game trip. — Alex Bozich

motorcityhoosier on the premium forum writes: I’m sure we’ll have a better idea after the Montreal/Ottawa trip, but who do you foresee will be the first man off the bench to sub in at the two spot? You have mentioned that you believe Robert Johnson will play the point behind Yogi, JBJ will likely start, and I assume Stan will play some time at the three. My impression is that Nick Zeisloft will get significant playing time at the two. Do you agree?

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